WNPR

It's Hard To Be Black In America. Still.

Jul 12, 2017

Race is a myth; racism is not. I'm stealing this line from Gene Seymour, one of our guests on our show today. 

Many of us hoped the election of Barack Obama in 2008 was a sign that we were finally entering a time when America was ready to recognize that racial inequality is the direct result of systemic discrimination going back to the founding of this country. 

Some of you reading this may scoff at that statement. Others may be willing to consider that the majority of Connecticut's black population live in cities segregated in neighborhoods with expensive housing, struggling schools, and fewer opportunities for jobs and good food. They're less likely to end up in a Connecticut suburb known for their fine schools and clean air. 

Maybe those of us alive today aren't directly responsible for the segregation -- but we are all complicit in accepting it. Before you blame it on economics, keep in mind that middle-class blacks also suffer from discrimination in housing, schools, and jobs. Still. 

A tired LeBron James had this to say after his home was spray-painted with racist graffiti during the NBA Finals: 

I think back to Emmett Till's mom, actually. That's one of the first things I thought of. The reason she had an open casket was that she wanted to show the world what her son went through as far as a hate crime, and being black in America. No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough. We've got a long way to go, for us as a society and for us as African Americans, until we feel equal in America.

GUESTS: 

  • Gene Seymour - Cultural critic, writer, jazz aficionado, and contributor for CNN Opinion, The Baffler, Book Forum and The Nation
  • Bruce Haynes - Professor of sociology at U.C. Davis and co-author of Down the Up Staircase 
  • Kris Marsh - Demographer and associate professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and a 2017 Fulbright Scholar in South Africa

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Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.